“Priorities are always changing and people are always working with constrained resources and the CIO is always being asked to deliver,” says David Doherty, recently CIO of Easynet.

“We talk a lot these days about a portfolio of projects,” says Doherty of today’s CIO role. As CIO.com reported in 2010, the downturn was actually a boost for the project management application market. With the downturn now being described as the new normal, the need for CIOs to constantly measure cost and impact, while meeting the demands of innovation means the demands placed on project management tools remains high.

“Companies and government agencies that are serious about project management have recognised that they can't manage larger projects and programmes effectively without software tools,” Stacy A. Goff wrote for CIO.

“Project management software helps analyse, optimise and manage projects, and this lets organisations determine the right mix of projects and resources to accomplish their strategic goals. Without project management software, organisations find it difficult to track individual projects, the resources allocated to them and the costs associated with them. Similarly, without project portfolio management software, it is nearly impossible to manage portfolios of projects and the dependencies among them."

eTask IT from Hydra Management is a cloud-based project management tool for organisations that Doherty has used. Manfredi Bargioni is vice president for marketing and business development at eTask in the UK and describes the tool as a “real time reporting tool that can benefit board level discussions.”

The traditional project management tools are within eTask, such as document management, resource management, time and expense tracking. What attracted Doherty and organisations such as Lexmark to eTask IT is the ability to define, and analyse projects as well as apply compliance rules.

“You have real time reporting on the projects in flight and assess the impact of changes by modelling ‘what if scenarios’,” Doherty says.

As CIOs and the IT department have changed to be the department that says yes, so it needs to be the department that can scientifically measure the impact of moving resources and budget across different projects and to have frank and honest discussions with the board and leadership of an organisation about those changes.

“Organisations want to figure out what people they need, especially skilled resources, so organisations can move to a method of what can I do with the people I have? Instead of hiring in new contractors,” Bargioni says. Adding that eTask users also analyse what they can deliver.

“If it’s known that a project cannot start because a particular development team or person is unavailable, then you can know the instant impact of this,” Doherty says of the application. “The reports it develops mean you can have a more sensible discussion.

“It is instantly, in real time, recalculating your budget too. So you can go back to the board and say ‘I can deliver this new work, but it will need some extra budget’,” Doherty says. With developers costing upwards of £400 a day, any change in a project plan can drastically alter capex for a CIO.

Bargioni says organisations are seeing additional benefits in reduced travel budgets as the right resources are used where they are situated, rather than shifting resources physically around the organisation and increasing the travel budget.

As an automation tool, eTask enables organisations to capture best practice and not reinvent the wheel with every project it launches.

“The idea of every project being different is crazy; 80 per cent of any project is structural and therefore there must be a correct way of organising your work,” Bargioni says. He adds that all too often organisations become too focused on the project plan, but forget essentials like documentation. eTask captures these stages as the project is in flight.

“There is always a worry that you have been told everything is fine, but you can set up alerts to certain actions, providing you with a better way of working with the PMO. Meaning you can take some action.

Bargioni says organisations are using this alerting and transparency in the bidding process to win work, so they can demonstrate and include a client into the eTask environment to be sure that a technology is being used.

In February 2013 eTask acquired Yorkshire-based Hydra Management, a leader in project management tools in the financial services, public sector and utilities sectors.